I often hear that players are stupid. It even comes from the players themselves as often as not, typically referring to another segment of the population. They do stupid things, make stupid mistakes. That previous sentence is true, but it also contributes to a horrible misconception.
Players are only as stupid as any random group of people. Any group is going to have stupid people, average people and smart people. Even if you argue that people in general are stupid, there are still going to be smart ones in the group… especially if you consider the sample size. On an individual level, there are stupid players. As an audience, players are not stupid. Even the most intelligent people do stupid things, fail to read instructions and generally bungle simple tasks. However, doing stupid things is a far cry from being stupid.
The problem with saying that players are stupid is that it can become a justification to do things wrong. And when that happens, players figure it out and suddenly you’re wrong instead of them.
- If you lie to them, they’ll figure it out.
- If you hide something from them, they’ll find it.
- If you leave something out, they’ll know it’s missing.
- If you try to keep them from doing something by only making it seem impossible, they’ll find a way to make it possible.
- If you try to keep them from beating your game too fast, they’ll still tear through it in no time.
- If you try to patronize them, they’ll see through it.
- If you try to ignore an issue, they’ll know it’s a hot button.
- If you try to fudge the math, they’ll find where the formula breaks.
Players are smart. Treat them like they’re smart, and then you’ll see that they’re industrious too. Give them a problem and the opportunity and they’ll solve it. Keep them loyal and they’ll build things you never had the time to create.